This post is the first in a series on how to create—and measure—engaging campus mobile apps

When you were choosing a college, where did you look to find campus information? Brochures and flyers mailed to your home, maybe? Recruitment events? Did you find yourself scouring the school’s website?

Today’s students are turning to their mobile devices to learn more about colleges they are thinking about applying to. In fact, surveys show that nearly half of students in the process of choosing a college use a mobile device to look for campus information.

So, the question for colleges and universities has evolved quickly from whether to even have a mobile strategy to how to use it to effectively engage students. But nearly two-thirds of mobile marketers admit they’re not measuring the success of their mobile strategy—even though many acknowledge that funding for mobile projects depends on showing results.

In this three-part blog series, I will share tips on how to create engaging mobile apps and, just as importantly, how to measure mobile engagement that will help you calibrate your app strategy to satisfy on-the-go students’ demands.

Why Measure?

Even in the digital world, the axiom ”you can’t manage what you can’t measure“ holds true. So, how do you know if your mobile strategy impacts students? What are the vital signs?

In the past, recruiters knew that their marketing was working by how many brochures were mailed, how many families showed up for tours and how many calls the registrars’ office received. They could count how many course schedules the school printed and the number of event tickets provided to (and used by) prospects visiting campus. But those are yesterday’s telltales of engagement.

Today, prospective students use their smartphones to find out about schools much more anonymously. How can you tell whether the recruiting material that goes with your app is working? What are today’s telltales, and how do you evaluate and measure them?


Before You Begin…

Before you even begin to develop a campus app, you need to be thinking about how the app’s effect on recruitment will be measured and how the app plays into the institution’s larger marketing program.

  • Map analytics to institutional goals. What is it you are trying to accomplish? What needles are you trying to move? Are you trying to expedite inquiries and applications? If so, plan on measuring metrics from your mobile app that correlate or are indicators of that success.
  • Set base lines. Determine what defines success for your institution. Set goals and objectives that are realistic, measurable, and time-bound.
  • Think about correlation / influence with existing marketing programs.

Your mobile app is just one strategy of many in your school’s marketing program. Consider where it fits in with other strategies and where synergies exist. For instance, how will the app be promoted at recruitment events or on the website? And, in turn, how can the app be used to help drive event attendance and web traffic?

Stay tuned because next up, I will share Four Best Practices for Creating Engaging Mobile Apps.

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